Saturday, August 21, 2010

Money, Money, Money!

This may come as a surprise to some, but Jesus had more to say about money than about heaven or hell. The same goes for the Apostle Paul’s writings. And both Jesus and his apostle explained the reason for this emphasis. Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23 cf. Luke 18:24). And Paul wrote: 

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

The last few years have dramatized the truth of Scripture: “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:5)  Since God is sovereign over all things, He could have prevented the economic crisis that devastated the savings of countless millions of ordinary, hard-working people, including Christians. God not only allowed it to happen, but He has a purpose for it; or I should say purposes. God’s purpose for the unbelieving world is one thing, and His purpose for His people is another.  One way God is using this crisis is to teach his people to trust in Him for their well-being, to depend on Him and not “to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

God wants us to be industrious and productive, but not so we can be independent of Him. We are to work so that we can be of benefit to others, including, of course, our family (1 Timothy 5:8).  The Bible doesn’t condemn a person for being rich; it just warns people not to desire to be rich. To those who happen to be rich, Paul writes: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). 

In the above passage, Paul was elaborating on the teaching of Jesus, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in a steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)  By using the material wealth God grants us in a way that glorifies Him, we lay up treasures in heaven. And it is glorifying to God when we give in His name.

It is important to note that the “sharing” and willingness to give that Paul talks about are voluntary; they would have no value if they were not.  In the Book of Acts, when Ananias and Sapphira sold some property and gave a portion of the proceeds to the church, they were not condemned because they only gave a portion; they were condemned because they lied and said it was all the proceeds. Peter made it clear that they had the freedom to do what they pleased with the money: “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:4)  Paul exhorted the Corinthian Christians: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

As Christians we should be industrious (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Acts 20:34), and we should be good stewards of the material wealth God entrusts to us (Luke 19:12-23). But above all, we should honor God with our material possessions and trust Him to meet our needs.

My next blog will be titled, Wall Street and the Word of God: Is It Wrong to Invest in the Stock Market?  Look for it next week.)

Disclaimer: Stocks and companies mentioned in this blog are for illustration purposes only. They are not intended as recommendations. Research companies well before investing. 

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